Friday, May 28, 2010

Theme to Liberty's Kids

Graham, in the full throes of his revolutionary war obsession, has gotten really into the "Liberty's Kids" series, which we've gotten on DVDs from the library. He particularly loves the theme song.  When it's on, he sits there and half hums along, mouthing those few words he's really gotten a command of.

I remember this stage of childhood, when you know that you've memorized a song but can't really sing it. It's awesome.

I've gotten so I like singing the song too.  Natalie hates it.  She tells me to shut up.  I think she's jealous that Graham has a favorite song.  For me, it's just the same as that Owl City "Fireflies" song she's into. It's a sweet little pop song that's positive in tone, so it's great for kids and even better for adults.  Soon enough they may well be listening to something with a hard edge to demonstrate that they are bad-assed ironic teens and are separating from their parents.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Back from Vegas

What a shithole.  At around 6:30 last night I was consumed by a need to get out of the massive Mandalay Bay Hotel and habitron.  So I went outside. First off, it was very difficult to get to the street.  Once I was there I walked aways and observed the sites.  The Luxor.  The Excalibur.  New York New York (OK. I give em props for the rollercoaster).  Basically it was like being inside the hotel complex, except it wasn't air conditioned.

I was pleased to see that I could've eaten all day for $29.95 at the buffet at Excalibur, but I didn't.

On hotel TV there was a long infomercial for the City Center complex, set on "67 acres of invaluable land".  If it's so invaluable, why was there a convenience store and a McDonalds across from my hotel, and a fleebag motel that had been converted into studio apartments, and even a derelict parking lot.  Something was amiss.  And why did City Center's financing almost collapse?

Then we went and had sushi at a restaurant with some name chef and it wasn't very good, but I didn't have to pay for it (as in Repo Man:  "Hey dude, lets go do some crimes!" "Yeah, lets go eat sushi and not pay.)

There were things I liked.  I liked lying on my bed and watching planes take off at the airport across the way, with the mountains in the distance as a backdrop.  I liked Shark Reef in the Mandalay Bay complex. Walking through one of the water tunnels, I saw a sword fish swim over my head.  That was cool.

Basically I like the kids' stuff.

And then I get home, and Graham starts puking.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Haven't been here since '76. Somewhat overwhelming.  The Back Street Boys are playing here at the Mandalay Bay, where people smoke indoors (what a throwback) and all the waitresses seem to have tattoos in the smalls of their backs and other enhancements. Is it the world's largest mall? Exhausted. More tomorrow.

Friday, May 21, 2010


This is a sweet little idyll of a movie, enhanced by the ogre like husband character, cubed in its poignance by the nasty murder of the writer / director / supporting actress Adrian Shelly between wrap and release.  Andy Griffith is as good as ever.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


We are now actually paying an architect to help us gear up for our renovation.  Hard-pressed to say what we wanted, from somewhere in the dregs of my bowels I pulled out "Scandinavian country house."  Little did I know there was actually a defined style.  Quoth one book's website:
"Of all the European country home styles, none is more universally popular than Scandinavian Country. These fresh, light-filled northern interiors have an effortless grace that never fails to delight the eye."

So we're off to the races.  Here's one I like.

Obviously we're not getting all the way there, but we could pull out some elements.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Graham gets his white belt

After months of stonewalling, I finally got Graham to recite his student's creed to his dojo at tae kwon do.  I only was able to do it by half-threatening to not take him anymore if he didn't do it.  Graham practiced once for me, and in his soft little voice he said:

I believe in myself.
I am confident.
I can accomplish my goals.

I believe in what I study.
I am disciplined.
I am ready to learn and advance.

I believe in my teachers.
I show respect to all who help me progress.

So when we got to class, I told the dojo that Graham was ready to say it, and at the beginning of class he called Graham over to him in a corner (I was glad he didn't have to do it in front of all the other kids).  But then, before class began, he called Graham over to him in front of all the other kids, told them Graham had said it and was going to receive his white belt.  Graham was visibly very happy. Then he told all the kids about how he had gotten his own white belt not so long ago (he's about 24 or so), but had stuck to it and become a black belt.  Then he pulled the white belt from within his robe and tied it snuggly around Graham's waist, and all the kids gave Graham a big round of applause.

I was very proud.

Good fun

This is the kind of band I would like to be in.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Into the Wild

This is a serious movie, beautiful but cruel and shocking, in its way. It will make you think about how you treat your children.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dizzy from numbers

Tonight I'm hard at work on a piece of research on life insurance in India. Dizzying.  3 million agents, 45 million policies a year, somewhat different numbering system:  "755 lakh crore Rs" = 755 * 100,000 * 10,000,000, and then divide by 45 to make it dollars.

And then to top it all off the statistics come from different places and they don't all make sense together, so you've got to figure out how they all fit. It's enough to drive you bonkers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

China subsidy for rat-proof refridgerators

This article, at Bloomberg, is an instance of a thoughtful use of stimulus/subsidies. It details how the Chinese government has been subsidizing farmers' purchases of appliances that don't get gnawed on by the rats that cohabitate with them. In view of an article in the New Yorker I recently read on the quest for the perfect stove for use in developing countries (a quixotic quest if ever there was one, since people don't take care of them or use them as directed), it will be interesting to revisit this 3 to 5 years down the road to see what the long term impact has been. Hopefully it delivers sustainable benefits.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Stomach bug

Have scarcely left the hosue this weekend.  Mary and Graham have both had stomach bugs. I have at least been psychosomatically afllicted with the same. Have been reduced to carting Natalie around so that she, at least, could have some fun for all of us.

I did get her to the library and, while there, checked out the complete set of Liberty's Kids DVDs, just right to help your Revolutionary War obsessed 6-year old while away the days.  And with Walter Cronkite as the voice of Ben Franklin.  Who knew?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Bird and fire

On my way to get my coffee from Weaver Street at 3:30, I spied a small baby bird by the back steps of The Station, Mike Benson's establishment.  It had its mouth wide open and was peeping vigorously.  What's up with that?  I thought.  Meanwhile, up on the deck rail of the station, another larger bird was looking at me and squawking pretty aggressively, so I took that to be the mama bird, and was somewhat comforted.

When we adopted our cats Leon and Rascal, the hippie chicks at the cat shelter argued that we should keep them inside because cats eat a lot of baby birds who are left nesting on the ground while their moms go out prospecting for worms and whatnot.  Mary buys this entirely, plus she fears the cats could get snagged by hawks or by nasty snakes.  I have been somewhat dubious on this argument, feeling that felines want to be free.  This baby bird, however, argued in the other direction.

On the way back I saw that the bird was still there, but the mama wasn't peeping at me anymore.  Strange, I thought.  Then when I came around the corner of the Station, I saw that a bunch of mulch was on fire, and appeared to be moving towards the building.  There was a bird laying near the fire that could have been mom.  I went and got a waiter from inside and he doused the fire with water and I stamped on it with my flip flops, until a guy with better shoes for the job came out and dealt with it more authoritatively.  The bird didn't look good, though.

I think I'm a little sensitive today, perhaps. It was kind of a freaky scene, something David Lynchy about it.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A hairy day out there

I made the mistake of looking at the markets around 2:30 today, and all of a sudden it was 2008 again. But now, to bed, for I must speak with reporters from Bloomberg and Reuters about AIG's 1Q results at around 8 and, by gum, I'll need to have something clever to say to them.

Thunder rumbles.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Obesity trends

This is a scary picture. Hadn't seen this one. Thanks to RGA Reinsurance for sticking it in their newsletter. Keep at it Jamie Oliver and Michele Obama.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Independence from foreign oil

This oil in the Gulf situation continues to anger me, and the suggestions from various politicians and others on the right that we need to keep drilling to reduce our dependence on foreign oil rankles in particular. To me it's very clear. To reduce our dependence on foreign oil we should:

  • Drive much smaller cars and many fewer fucking SUVs
  • Drive them less
  • Live closer together
It's not that complicated.